Manny Pacquiao will begin training in just ten days to prepare for his June 9 fight with Timothy Bradley, says Ronnie Nathanielsz, giving the Filipino icon about a seven-week training camp in Baguio City and the Wild Card in California.
Also notable in that article is the tone of strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza, who seems perhaps not concerned with Timothy Bradley (as in, not fearful of Bradley), but definitely isn't coming out with his boorish bluster this time around.
Ariza wants to get together with Pacquiao as soon as possible and make sure they've got the right training game plan, because Bradley has the physical strength and youth to bully Manny -- or so it seems that's what Ariza thinks, anyway, and I think he'd be right. Those underestimating Bradley's pure strength -- and more importantly, his ability to use it -- might be shocked, I believe.
While looking at the full career is what you should do for Hall of Fame discussions and all-time rankings placement babble, when discussing Pacquaio the current fighter, I really only think back to Oscar and forward. Of those opponents, I believe Bradley might be the toughest style matchup, outside of perhaps Juan Manuel Marquez.
Oscar was done at that point, too immobile and weak to do anything with Manny, who taught us the lesson again that a great "little man" can not just beat but beat the living shit out of a washed-up "big man." After that, you had Hatton, who Manny just completely torched; Cotto, who held his own for about five rounds before losing all semblance of a game plan; Clottey, who stood still; Margarito, who was old and slow but did some damage on pure size and ability to corner Manny; Mosley, who was every bit the waste of time the sane expected going in; and Marquez, who gave Manny hell and had a great argument for a W he did not receive.
Bradley isn't really similar to any of those guys. He's a short, powerfully built guy who can box, who can bully, who puts punches together well, has good defense, good footwork, isn't afraid to make things uncomfortable for opponents with his "tactics," and has youth and energy on his side. He also really has nothing to lose here. If he even so much as makes it competitive, it's an overall win for Tim Bradley's career prospects. If he actually wins, then we've got an unlikely superstar, if indeed the public were to take to him.
In short, I hope for Manny's sake that he's really prepared on June 16. It seems like some are starting to see this as an easy win for Pacquiao, and I've read lots of good reasons for that, here and elsewhere. But I'm still seeing this one as a huge trap for Manny, at least potentially. This fight just might be all wrong for him at this stage of his career.